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The First Buddhist Women

18/06/201504:35(Xem: 7413)
The First Buddhist Women
The First Buddhist women

First Buddhist Women is a readable, contemporary translation of and commentary on the enlightenment verses of the first female disciples of the Buddha. Through the study of the Therigatha, the earliest-known collection of women’s religious poetry, the book explores Buddhism's 2,600-year-long liberal attitude toward women. Utilizing commentary and storytelling, author Susan Murcott traces the journey of wives, mothers, teachers, courtesans, prostitutes, and wanderers who became leaders in the Buddhist community, acquiring roles that even today are rarely filled by women in other, patriarchal religions.
http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Murcott/e/B001JP3UU2/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

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 Preface to The First Buddhist Women

 

I am very moved by the 2015 translation of the First Buddhist Women into Vietnamese. It is received with gratitude. First, it is gratitude for the strength and courage of generations of women who have known suffering, and who have sought its cause, its end, and a path, beginning with the Therīgāthā founder-women, the first women Buddhists. Second, it is an expression of gratitude to our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and the lineage of women from whom we have emerged and without whom we wouldn’t have the opportunity for the miracle of our lives.

 

I also want to express my deepest appreciation to the translator of this book, Dr. Mai Van Tinh. Through his perseverance, he was able to locate me across oceans and continents, indeed half-way around the world from Hanoi to Boston. What a joy for me to have my book so appreciated. How much more joy that a request to translate the book into Vietnamese was proposed and accomplished by Dr. Tinh in such a short period of time! This work is not only the product of one person’s effort. It is a collection of timeless and precious accounts of so many important, and yet often invisible, founders of the Buddhist women’s lineage. In translating this work, Dr. Tinh has been ably assisted by Pali scholar, Bhikkhuni Lieu Phap, and her teacher, Bhikkhu Thich Vien Minh whose contributions has been so valuable in conveying the essence of the Buddhist teachings.

 

Finally I would like to express my appreciation and respect for the people of Vietnam. Just as Siddhartha Gotama confronted suffering as a young man when he encountered an old man, a sick man and a dying man, so too, the people of Vietnam and the American people encountered suffering through a war which should never have been waged. At age 16, this led me to want to go to Vietnam, not to fight, but “to help”. It also led to a meeting with the illustrious American anthropologist, Margaret Mead, who said to me “Young woman! If you want to stop the war in Vietnam, don’t try to stop it in Vietnam, stop it in this country – the USA!”. That began my journey into young adulthood.  It also led me to encounterthe writings and poems of Thich Nhat Hanh, particularly The Miracle of Mindfulness,which was a door for me into Buddhism. 

 

Thus the First Buddhist Women that I translated from Pāli to English followed my intention “to help” and led, in turn, to my encounter with Vietnamese Buddhism. Now, four decades later, we offer these accounts of the First Buddhist Women in Vietnamese for the first time.

 

In the words of Patācārā:

“I have seen the jackals eating the flesh of my sons in the cemetery. My family destroyed, my husband dead, despised by everyone, I found what does not die.”

 

In the words of Sundari to Buddha:

I am your disciple Sundari and I have come from Kasi to pay homage.Buddha, teacher, I am your daughter, your true child, born of your mouth. My mind is free of all clinging. My task is done.

 

I pray that all who read these Therīgāthā poems afresh will embrace the miracle of mindfulness and peace that is being taught to us by these First Buddhism Women.

 

And, in the words of Thich Nhat Hanh: “Washing my hands in clear water, I pray that all people have pure hands to receive and care for the truth.”

 

                                                Tết New Year’s Eve (Feb 18, 2015)

                                               

                                                               Susan Murcott

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